General Ghanem Abbas Al-Qoreishi, former officer in Saddam’s army, moved his convoy of armed trucks into the village of Barwanah in hope of easing tensions in the long-troubled district. His primary focus was ending the sectarian division which has ripped apart any effort to bring unity to the people of Iraq. “We need to stop this spiral of violence,” said the general. “My father is a Shitte. My mother is a Sunni. I am an Iraqi.” The village is split between the large Sunni majority and the smaller Shiite group which regards them as mortal enemies. The divided province is an Al-Qaeda stronghold and has witnessed bitter violence. The general already has a bounty on his head being offered by militant groups.
Already 1,500 police have been killed and General Al-Qoreishi believes even his 17,335 officers are insufficient in strength to combat al-Qaeda. Residents told him terrorist attacks have destroyed electricity cables and pylons. “We have no water or electricity: they have cut everything. We cannot even water our fields. We need the money to repair everything.” The general estimates about 70% of the region is Sunni and if Sunni encounter Shiite violence, they turn to al-Qaeda for protection.
General Al-Qoreishi believes an important step is for Ameican authorities “to compensate all Iraqis who have lost goods and family members. In all the countries of the world, when you throw money on a fire, it burns. In Iraq, the fire dies out.” As the convoy left the village, an old man was sitting on the ground still clutching photos of his two missing sons.